I am thinking W&C should probably renamed "Occasional Book Blog" because that is pretty much what it has morphed into. I would feel a bit bad about this, but I think most of my "regulars" are getting their fill of me through other venues.
The good news/bad new is that Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri brings up to what I read in... wait for it... July! There are a couple bigger/longer reads between then and now, so I am only 4 books behind and on my 5th one, that will be finished some time this week.
Lahiri's latest (now available in paperback) is a collection of 5 short stories plus what pretty much amounts to a novella (3 linked short stories). I have stated before that I am not a huge fan of the short-story genre, but I am starting to come around... maybe just due to what seems to be society's decreasing attention span. Heck, I was not even a huge fan of Lahiri's literary debut of short stories, Interpreter of Maladies, which won the Pulitzer! Though I should perhaps say not an "orgasmic" fan of it, as I had read her first full-length novel, The Namesake, before Interpreter and loved that so much it was one of my top books of 2007. It's always hard not to compare one book vs another by the same author and in this case I just preferred Namesake.
But that may not matter much as the news here is that I think Unaccustomed Earth is Lahiri's best work yet... and she is one of those rare authors who I have read their entire body of work, easy enough to do when those two abovementioned books are it! I was instantly mesmerized by the very first story and it only cemented my belief the Lahiri is one of the best writers out their today.
Having read her many stories and her one novel to date, my one small quibble is the recurrence in the
character types (well-educated Bengalis living in the Ivy Leagues) and
themes (infidelity, struggles with cultural identity), but again it's to Lahiri's credit that she never makes it seem repetitive. I know that "recur/not repetitive" sounds contradictory, but as a white male who has read maybe a dozen pieces of Indian oriented lit these recurrences it just stands out more... obviously I have exponetially more books about well-educated white folk who struggle with monogamy issues that aren't the same story either! So while it may cultural aspects of Lahiri's books might be new or different to me what she is really doing is beautifully capturing the human experience of longing for love
and happiness, that is certainly not exclusive to gender
This is certainly one of my favorites of the year and if you haven't read Lahiri I would encourage you to give her a try, though I would almost want you to "go in order" (Intepreter, Namesake, Unaccustomed) as I think she is really evolving as a writer (though Interpreter is certainly a very high quality starting point) and that is a interesting journey as well.